My friend Charles wanted a mentor. He was eager to learn the ropes of ministry, so he asked an older pastor for training. The pastor agreed—but Charles soon realized the man wanted a valet, not an apprentice. Charles became the man’s “armor bearer.”
The man never took Charles on hospital visits, involved him in ministry assignments or prayed with him. Instead, Charles was expected to carry the pastor’s briefcase, fetch coffee and take suits to the cleaners—with no salary offered. In this case, “armor bearer” was a spiritualized term for “slave.”
This bizarre trend became popular in churches 20 years ago, but it still thrives. It appeals to insecure leaders who need an entourage to make them feel important. Some pastors have even assigned trainees to serve as bodyguards—complete with dark glasses and concealed weapons. These young men are instructed to keep people away from the pastor so he doesn’t have to talk to anyone after a church service (because, after all, the poor preacher might be “drained of his anointing” if he fraternizes with common folks).
A practical plan for engaging the entire church in revolutionary disciple-making
We all want to do something revolutionary. I know I do. After 40 years in ministry, I can say that I have been involved in a life- and world-changing revolution. Will you join me in this mandate to any and every mature disciple of Christ?
This revolution started 2,000 years ago when Jesus uttered the words, "Follow me" to 12 men He would spend His time on earth with teaching and showing them what it meant to be His disciple. Through this simple concept, Jesus reproduced Himself in His followers.
The revolution continued as these disciples led by Peter established the early church, followed by Paul, who followed Jesus' ex-ample as he discipled Timothy, Titus and Silas.
Since then, faithful believers have sporadically picked up this spiritual fathering concept.
Call it what you want—mentoring, discipling, coaching or spiritual fathering or mothering—it all boils down to the idea of caring about each other's spiritual growth.
Paul grasped this truth when he told Timothy, "You then, my son, ... the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others" (2 Tim. 2:1-2, NIV). Paul exhorted his disciple, Timo-thy, to find another disciple who would disciple another.
What’s happened to real discipleship in America ... and how we can get back on track